Friday, May 28, 2010

Amazing Grace- The Power of Music

Why does music evoke tears? Dominic asked me to find Amazing Grace so he could figure it out on the piano. I came across this version from Il Divo and was crying like a baby. Maybe it was the bag pipe because at my father's funeral they played this song on the bag pipes. What a beautiful instrument and a beautiful song!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Gift of Sisterhood

There is no gift like sisterhood. We were all home a couple weeks ago for graduation. There is also no gift like that of a brother, but we'll do that later. For now, I am so grateful for my sisters. I am the oldest of the girls. I know we've had many times they view me as the "older sister" who is always talking to them about "something." I hope they know how much I love them and how much I only want the best for their soul.

Me, Kristin, Hilary, Samantha, Kathryn, Damaris, and Kellan @ Kathryn's graduation!

Me, Hilary, Kathryn, Kellan, Kristin, Damaris, and Samantha @ Kellan's graduation

Hilary thought it was a good idea to move to Florida last year. Not cool!

No one makes me laugh harder!

Hilary is married to Tim Gerrish. He is my favorite person in the whole world. Tim just finished his first year of law school at Ave Maria Law School in Naples, FL. Timmy will change the world. Just watch. I love him like a brother.

Sam has been my right hand man this year. I am so appreciative of all the times she has come over to be with my kids. They love her so much. Dominic says often, "Let's call Mammy to see if she can stop by."

Kristin is married to Jora. They have two children so far. Jora is the third oldest of 16 children. Yes, you heard me-----16! I thought we were big until I met his family. Such a privilege to meet them! His parents came from the Ukraine when they only had 8 children. Truly an amazing story! About a month ago, Kristin, Samantha, and my brother Dominic helped me paint my living and kitchen. They were good enough the next day to help me repaint it because it looked like we smeared grape jelly on the wall. They are good like that!

The three little sprouts. They have been a joy to watch grow up. John came into our family when Kellan was 3 years-old so it is crazy for him to watch them grow. They each take turns staying with us most summers. They have helped me through many babies! I wish they didn't have to get older.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Found this somewhere on someone's blog. Wouldn't this have been fun as a child? Someday.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The BEST part of MY day (and theirs)

Truly, this is the best part of my day. I have never gotten use to seeing or hearing you come home. I literally think my heart flutters when I see the little green car coming up the road. My mom says that is how God designed it! The kids have never gotten use to you coming home either. They flip every time! I am sure they are reacting to me reacting with such joy! Your muffler is broken and I can truly hear the Civic a mile away. I don't want you to fix it because now I can hear you coming before I see you coming. PAPA'S HOME!!! Thank you for wanting to be home with us and for all your hard work! We couldn't love you more!

Nine Years of Marriage

Yesterday was our 9th Anniversary! How time flies! I truly could not have asked for a better day. So many wonderful people and memories! It seems back then that photography was not near what it is today. It makes me sad to think of the pictures we could have had. They are in my heart though. I remember in my bouquet I had 14 white lilies in honor of the 14 wounds St. Maria Goretti received while defending her purity. Funny how you forget those little things. I will never forget the reception and seeing over 700 people crammed into a room. Thank you for coming to our wedding. You will never know what it meant to us. My brother Andrew bought my wedding dress. We had a wonderful day together. I will never forget him for doing that for me. He made the day and preparation so special.

I will never forget John's smile when I walked down the aisle. It was electrifying. We hadn't seen each other yet and it was well worth the wait. I remember thinking how handsome he looked and I loved his haircut.

At that time in our lives, we both felt strongly to offer our marriage for the priesthood. Before our wedding, we had a Eucharistic Holy Hour praying for all vocations specifically the priesthood. We had invited several priest friends to come, but didn't know who would be there. I remember praying that many priests would be there. When I walked down the aisle, the entire sanctuary was filled with priests...23 to be exact and 4 deacons. It was like heaven. They were all in white and smiling so grand at us! Thank you, Lord for this special gift. I will never forget them for coming. I wish our pictures truly depicted how beautiful this sight was. The first picture below gives a small glimpse of what the priestly altar looked like. Someone told me later on that when the priests were processing in before mass, one of the neighbors near the church asked if it was an ordination. That made me smile.
I am one of ten children and John is one of 8 children. We had all our siblings in the wedding plus a few additions so the altar was truly a grand depiction of life.

I remember telling John that day that I hope by our 10th Anniversary we would have 10 children. Yesterday, it occurred to me that we've been married for 9 years and have 9 children (six on this earth and three in heaven.) What a blessing!

I am still so grateful for this beautiful day and for the opportunity I had been given to marry this most wonderful person. I knew he was wonderful, but little did I know how wonderful. The thing I love about John the most is his perpetual happiness and positiveness and his mastery at sacrificing joyfully. He almost tricks me every time that he actually enjoys doing the dirty work. I always realize later that he was probably offering it up and not really enjoying cleaning up throw up although he was probably singing some crazy tune and making all the kids laugh at the same time. I am honored to know this person!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

God Said Multiply, and Did She Ever

This story is beautiful! Please help me to be like Yitta!
My favorite part of this story is when she said,
"‘When there are so many problems in life, I should put myself on the scale?’ ”

Mrs. Schwartz gave birth 18 times, but lost two children in the Holocaust and one in a summer camp accident.

WHEN Yitta Schwartz died last month at 93, she left behind 15 children, more than 200 grandchildren and so many great- and great-great-grandchildren that, by her family’s count, she could claim perhaps 2,000 living descendants.

Mrs. Schwartz was a member of the Satmar Hasidic sect, whose couples have nine children on average and whose ranks of descendants can multiply exponentially. But even among Satmars, the size of Mrs. Schwartz’s family is astonishing. A round-faced woman with a high-voltage smile, she may have generated one of the largest clans of any survivor of the Holocaust — a thumb in the eye of the Nazis.

Her descendants range in age from a 75-year-old daughter named Shaindel to a great-great-granddaughter born Feb. 10 named Yitta in honor of Mrs. Schwartz and a great-great-grandson born Feb. 15 who was named Moshe at his circumcision on Monday. Their numbers include rabbis, teachers, merchants, plumbers and truck drivers. But these many apples have not fallen far from the tree: With a few exceptions, like one grandson who lives in England, they mostly live in local Satmar communities, like Williamsburg in Brooklyn and Kiryas Joel, near Monroe, N.Y., where Mrs. Schwartz lived for the last 30 years of her life.

Mrs. Schwartz had a zest for life and a devotion to Hasidic rituals, faithfully attending the circumcisions, first haircuts, bar mitzvahs, engagements and weddings of her descendants. With 2,000 people in the family, such events occupied much of the year.

Whatever the occasion, she would pack a small suitcase and thumb a ride from her apartment in Kiryas Joel to Williamsburg or elsewhere.

“She would appear like the Prophet Elijah,” said one of her daughters, Nechuma Mayer, who at 64 is her sixth-oldest living child, and who has 16 children and more than 100 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “Everybody was fighting over her!”

There were so many occasions that, to avoid scheduling conflicts, one of her sons was assigned to keep a family calendar. But her family insists that Mrs. Schwartz had no trouble remembering everyone’s name and face.

Like many Hasidim, Mrs. Schwartz considered bearing children as her tribute to God. A son-in-law, Rabbi Menashe Mayer, a lushly bearded scholar, said she took literally the scriptural command that “You should not forget what you saw and heard at Mount Sinai and tell it to your grandchildren.”

“And she wanted to do that,” he said, without needing to add her belief that the more grandchildren, the more the commandment is fulfilled. Mrs. Schwartz gave birth 18 times, but lost two children in the Holocaust and one in a summer camp accident here.

She was born in 1916 into a family of seven children in the Hungarian village of Kalev, revered as the hometown of a founder of Hungarian Hasidism. During World War II, the Nazis sent Mrs. Schwartz, her husband, Joseph, and the six children they had at the time to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

At the shiva last month, another Bergen-Belsen survivor recalled her own mother dying at the camp; Mrs. Schwartz took it upon herself to prepare the body according to Jewish ritual, dig a grave and bury the woman.

“For her it was a matter of necessity,” Nechuma Mayer said of her mother’s actions.

When the war ended, the family made its way to Antwerp, Belgium. There, Mrs. Schwartz put up refugees in makeshift beds in her own bombed-out apartment.

In 1953, the Schwartzes migrated to the United States, settling into the Satmar community in Williamsburg. She arrived with 11 children — Shaindel, Chana, Dinah, Yitschok, Shamshon, Nechuma, Nachum, Nechemia, Hadassah, Mindel and Bella — and proceeded to have five more: Israel, Joel, Aron, Sarah and Chaim Shloime, who died in summer camp at age 8. Sarah came along after Mrs. Schwartz had already married off two other daughters.

While her husband sold furniture on Lee Avenue, Williamsburg’s commercial spine, Mrs. Schwartz, who never learned English well, tended the family. She sewed her daughters’ jumpers with mother-of-pearl buttons and splurged for pink-and-white blouses — 20 for 99 cents each — at that late lamented discount emporium on Union Square, S. Klein.

With so many children, Mrs. Schwartz had to make six loaves of challah for every Sabbath, using 12 pounds of dough — in later years, she was aided by Kitchenaid or Hobart appliances. (Mrs. Mayer said her mother had weaknesses for modern conveniences, and for elegant head scarves.) For her children’s weddings, Mrs. Schwartz starched the tablecloths and baked the chocolate babkas and napoleons.

After her husband died 34 years ago, relatives said, Mrs. Schwartz never burdened others with her new solitude.

“We didn’t feel even one minute that she was a widow,” Mrs. Mayer said. “She used to say, ‘When there are so many problems in life, I should put myself on the scale?’ ”

Mrs. Schwartz did not want her children to collect photographs of her and, given that modesty, her family was reluctant to provide more than one to accompany this article. “Just keep me in your heart,” she used to say. “If you leave a child or grandchild, you live forever.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

Living with a Puddle Duck

I can hardly believe you are over 14 months! You are beyond words! Your inner rhythm is deep into your soul. I had just you with me at Hy-Vee in your short purple shorts, no shoes, and pink top. Your hair was extra blond and curly today. The store had a rather jazzy tune on and you sat there emotionless, but jamming out with your shoulders. I did actually look around to see if anyone saw this perfection. Your thighs were just squished in the cart while your shoulders did all the moves! You aren't saying many words, but do say the phrase "Sue-Play-Plue" a hundred times a day. Your eyes are usually huge and you will look right at me and say "Sue Play Plue" and nod your head YES. I can't handle it most times.
Your Papa and I are convinced you watch "March of the Penguins" in your bed at night because you waddle just like them! A regular ole' Puddle Duck you are!

I had a moment of sadness like I do before every new baby that your little days are coming to an end. I actually feel my heart hurt and ache. I know everything will settle down once the new baby comes after the period of adjustment, but that loss of what once was is so painful for me.
God is so good to give us the love for each child no matter what number they are in the line up. You couldn't be more loved. Your Aunt Hilary surprised us and came home this weekend. She said you were our cutest yet. I reminded her that she says that every time.
It cracks me up how you play at the play kitchen. How many times can a baby open and shut the door to a little play kitchen? You are very agile and can handle stairs and getting down out of your high chair with much grace.
I could write a book to you. I love you too much! Thank you for being in our lives!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Dear Dominic,

I will never, ever get use to this! I LOVE watching you read! You ask me most days if we can "stop by the library" because you're after a certain book. This week's topics: Different Dog Breeds, Archeology, and Paleontology.

You are a joy to take anywhere! This was at the IMAX movie about California! It was truly amazing! We enjoy watching you at events because you get so excited!

Who knows what this part was! I hope to see this movie again! It was amazing!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Constant state of cuteness

This child lives in a constant state of cuteness. Every picture we take of her is completely cute. The tone of her voice is over the top cute. Her desperate attempts to join the sister club is cute. Her "perceived" knowledge of being way older than Vianney is cute. Or as she says, "Be-on-ey." She wets her hair down in the bathroom several times a day. John and I noticed this week that she has been nursing her baby constantly, but has begun supplementing with bottles. She even uses a nursing cover. She usually follows me around the house saying under her breath, "Will you weed (read) to me?" She probably could give Julie Andrews a run for her money if they battled it out over the "Sound of Music" soundtrack. We are very serious about "I am sixteen going on seventeen." She has a fabulous sense of humor cracking us up at her cracking up and how she reports stories with her one hand and the other hand on her hip. She wears heels most days which is awkward at times because it takes her forever to get anywhere. I love how your face waits for me every morning in the big window when I am coming up the hill from walking. There is nothing better than your morning face, head, and hair! I love how you tell me every day that you "love my baby." I love that you now prefer to use your father's bathroom because the magazines are back there. I check on you to find you perched most days (with your legs crossed, of course) flipping through Better Homes and Gardens while you sit upon the throne. You ask us to watch you run "fast" several times a day. You are fast! I grew up with my grandmother saying, "I always want a two-year-old in my home!" So true. So true!
Thank you, Zellie for being in our lives! You are the perfect definition of

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


I hear this term a lot passed around amongst my friends, on blogs, when I'm out with all my children, and especially in Hollywood. I always cringe a bit because this seems like such a bad term for the nature of the work we have been asked by God to do. Most would classify the term "supermom" has one is crafty, creative, gets things done, beautiful, skinny, never loses her patience, constantly involved in her child or childrens' lives, always has a fabulous meal ready, never has an unclean home or at the least has a perfect cleaning schedule which rotates nicely on a weekly basis, throws fabulous birthday parties, has her prayers said by 6:00 AM because a hot breakfast must be ready by 7:00, has managed to produce well-mannered children who NEVER act out, etc., etc. Basically, ONE WHO CAN DO IT ALL.

The pressure it puts on young mothers is dangerous. I had the extreme privilege of talking with a woman a couple days ago who buried her only daughter recently. I sat sobbing listening to this woman describe her grief and her current state. Where is super mom now? Where does this term leave her? She has been dealt the biggest cross that could be asked of a mother. Her world is crumbling. I sat staring at her in her beautiful Pottery Barn decorated home and all of it means nothing. Where does the term super mom leave my good friend whose oldest child is severely autistic and she has three little ones to care for a top of the intensity of dealing with beautiful Regina and her needs. Sarah is a saint. SHE is a supermom. She has no time to plan elaborate parties. She has no time for anything because for the rest of her earthly existence God has asked her and her husband to be holy parents to Regina and love her so patiently everyday. I am always edified by them and their joy. Where does it leave my cousin Jamie whose son has seizures several times a day. They average a trip to the E.R. around 3-4 times A WEEK because he stops breathing. He is almost five years old and has NEVER slept even remotely through the night. He screams most nights all night because of his seizures. Jamie and Nick have three other children. They are saints!

Where does the term leave mothers who struggle simply with self-doubt in their ability to mother small children or several children? The very nature of motherhood is sacrificial...a true gift of our body, mind, and soul. We give ourselves to each child from the moment of conception, throughout pregnancy, through labor and delivery and then the true work begins until the end of our days. We will never be the same. I will constantly wonder if I'm nurturing them enough, praying for them enough, making them feel special and loved enough, showing them the right way enough, telling them they are wonderful enough, being patient enough. There are so many avenues to take in this beautiful yet often unguided journey. Never before have you loved someone so intensely. I have met several mothers whose personalities don't clash with one or more of the children. There is a constant battle EVERY day trying to maintain just plain sanity in dealing with a difficult temperament. Where does this term leave them?

Once we begin to portray this perfect "mom-ness", then the hard part begins of maintaining perfect "mom-ness." What will they think of me? What if my once current state of perfection begins to slip? Then we begin our own "little Hollywood" of destruction. You see it time and time again. Stars who start out wholesome with good intentions and within a short while we are reading about how their life went south. Why? Why do people in "superness" usually burn out and go south? The pressure to maintain our status or their status is overwhelming and they start to compromise. When the new star is coming up and they are fading away, they and we panic. If our bumps and bruises begin to be exposed, what will we do?

Only through my early motherhood failures have I been humbled. I've never understood mothers who look down upon other mothers. When I hear someone comment about so and so saying they are "overwhelmed" or "not confident," my immediate reaction is sympathy. I've been there. My goal now is to be positively real. I never want to portray life in such a way that our grass never needs cut, every family picture turns out just right because our kids smile when they are told, our kids never disobey, I'm never overwhelmed or even remotely tempted with impatience. I handle every situation with calmness and love. What will happen when my Calvary hits, when I'm being nailed to the cross?

The Blessed Mother is the ultimate supermom. She is what every woman should be. She was afraid. If you have ever seen how she was portrayed in the Passion of Christ, you will remember her fear, her tears, her sorrow. Then we will remember her getting strength to do what she has been asked to do. To stand at the foot of the cross and hold her Son. That is superness. Her beauty was outwardly, but more importantly she had a heart toward Our Lord. That alone is superness. Once again, I encourage all mothers to realize your true beauty lies only in your heart. You brought a soul into the world, brought them to the waters of baptism, and are trying every day to love this person through difficult temperments, trials, and tribulations! You are being a supermom! You are giving of your body with each baby to be subject to weight gain, sleepless nights, worry of health of the baby throughout pregnancy! You are a super person! The world fights LIFE with all its being! Nothing is more under attack! The very fact that you are open to LIFE puts you in a completely different category! Let us fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep our faith!

(For clarification sake, I spend a great amount of time pouring over Pottery Barn catalogs, decorating our home, planning birthday parties, reading blogs about what people do to their homes, etc., etc. BUT, I hope by no means it is a measure of what type of mother I am. I hope by the end of my life I have spent more time reflecting upon our Lady then on Pottery Barn and the efficiency of how well my home runs. That is the goal!:)

Heard today...

Rose came running up to me with a book with a picture of triplets. She exclaimed, "Mom, I've been wanting to show this to you. I wish you were having TRIB-Lets!"
John and I laughed and she said it again. "Can't we have TRIB-LETS!"

I put Zellie down for her nap and told her her hair looks lovely.
She said, "Thank you, but ACT-CHEW-WE (actually) it is messy."

Dominic asks me EVERY day what my favorite movie is, what my favorite food is, what Papa's favorite book is, what my favorite dog is, and if I could do one thing what would it be. I always say that I wish I could fly.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Their love for each other is priceless. Rose and Lillie truly are the same person! Zellie is shortly becoming a member of the secret club. I love watching them love each other. They will always have a friend for life. What a gift siblings are! I hear them complimenting each other all day. Rose always tells everyone how lovely they look. Then you will hear the person being complimented say, "Thank you, Rose." She is always reminding them to act like ladies. Darling! Although, Lillie is the leader. She directs the play and what they are going to do! Everyone follows her.

Monday, May 10, 2010

I have been wanting to redesign my blog for a while, but can't figure out how to make my pictures bigger and how to put two or more pictures next to each other. Any suggestions would be great!
For now, Rose in all her wonderfulness!

The Profound Effects of Music on Life

I listened to this CD entitled "The Profound Effects of Music on Life" by Andrew Pudewa. Andrew Pudewa is a fascinating human being that spent years teaching in Japan and then worked at the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential. He was a professional violin player on top of all his other achievements. If you don't know anything about the Institute for the Achievement of Human Potential, it definately is worth looking into. Basically, they have done intense study on the human brain and how it works and functions. Their stories are fascinating.
I listened to his lecture yesterday while walking and was completely blown away by his work. During Ancient Greek times, they only studied three subjects which were Rhetoric, Mathematics, and Music. There were laws that prohibited music to be written in a certain way. For example, the rhythm must not outweigh the melody. Laws! Music was that important! They would be so distraught now by the current music standards which is all rhythm. We view music today as something "nice", but Pudewa argues and proves it is essential to the growth of the brain. He says you actually are growing a child's brain by training them to classical music and getting them involved in piano or any classical instrument. He recommends that most should be done before the age of 6. I told Dominic about this today. I said "Every time you practice you are actually growing your brain." I saw the light bulb go on.
Dominic, Lillie, Rose, and Zellie take piano lessons. Before listening to this CD, John and I felt piano was important, but now I know why. I leave for my walk around 5:45 and put on Mozart before I leave so that when the kids wake up they come out to this. It really is beautiful! They are getting really good at recognizing the difference between Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach.
I would highly recommend listening to this CD and any of Andrew Pudewa's work. I also listened to his presentation on teaching Spelling to children. Brilliant!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Birthday cakes with posts to follow

I made these to celebrate the feast of St. George and the dragon!

We celebrated Lillie's 6th Birthday April 26th!

Vianney turned one March 5th! Big Stuff!

We purchased a new camera and I just sat down to figure out how to upload the pictures (after all my procrastination it ended up being the exact same way as our old camera) Anyway, I have three birthdays to catch up on so here are the cakes with the posts to follow soon! The pictures of Dominic's cake forgot to upload so now back to figuring that out. Be back soon!